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eBay’s Whitman Shares Opinions On Web At Annual CEA Dinner

Meg Whitman, president & CEO of eBay, discussed the future of the Internet during her speech at the annual CEA Leaders In Technology dinner, which was held at the Bellagio Hotel at CES.

CEA president and dinner host Gary Shapiro was gratified that so many top executives from many different industries “took the time to attend CES” and this annual dinner and reception, which was sponsored in part by TWICE. And the 80 government guests, which was about 30 more than last year, included three U.S. Senators, 11 members of the House of Representatives and many other notables.

There were over 400 invitees, including top executives from the consumer electronics, broadcasting, cable, computer, telecommunications and other industries, and five of the 2002 Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame inductees all attended what was the largest turnout ever for this annual event.

In her remarks, titled “How The Internet Breaks Down Barriers,” Whitman that computer and consumer electronics sales are now at a $2 billion at eBay. “The second key benefit to the industry is that eBay is now an incremental channel for excess inventory or returns.”

Whitman noted that during the 21st century the Web will equal the combined effect “electricity, the telephone and the automobile had on the 20th century.”

Concerning eBay and e-commerce in general, Whitman said the click & mortar model can “super-charge the businesses” of traditional companies, while pure-play Internet companies provide products and services that “could not exist in a traditional way. It connects many [vendors] to many [consumers] in a seamless way.”

Whitman said that the keys to eBay’s success has been, “bringing efficiency to inefficient markets.” She said that sellers now have “access to millions of consumers worldwide, and can sell their products at maximum prices” while doing it at “low cost.” And the site provides “massive selection … bringing an ease to the [buying process] by consumers.”

The eBay executive also called on government leaders in the audience to push for full implementation of broadband efforts and to stop “the invasion of privacy that spam creates.” Whitman noted that legislation banning spam anti-harvest legislation, if passed this year, could dramatically help Internet popularity.